The boatman waits patiently where the sand meets the sea. A wicker hat is all that stands between him and the blinding light of the sun, but that’s all he needs.
Half asleep, the boatman rocks and sways along in his little rowboat. The boat’s unmoored, but it never strays far from shore without the stroke of an oar.
He passes the time by humming low and slow, some forgotten folk songs from long ago. He hums to keep out unwanted memories, as well as to ward off the distractions of daydreams. He is here now, in the here and now, and that is enough.
Some days, he sits on the shore alone, all day, seeing nothing but the occasional hermit crab and the more-than-occasional gull.
He was sure today was going to be another one of those days. Didn’t know why, it just felt that way. But then again, to him, being sure about things that would never come to pass was as familiar as an old hat.
A good bit of time washes away the heat of the day, as plenty of sand falls through the hourglass. But then just as the blues melt away and dusk sets the sky ablaze, the boatman spots an old woman, scrambling down the dunes and waving a crimson scarf in the wind to catch his eye.
“Going west, my dear?“, he shouts just loud enough for her to hear.
She whirls and twirls and nods back from a distance, moving in a way that both defies her age and reveals her timeless spirit in a single gesture.
“Better hurry up then! Sun’s setting! We’ll need to get out beyond the bluffs while there’s still an ounce of daylight to burn.”
The old woman scrambles some more. Within moments, she reaches the shore. The boatman takes her by the hand and welcomes her aboard. Then he unceremoniously tosses her an oar.
“In this boat, we all row. No matter how young or old. Hope you don’t mind, Ms.”
She nods again without hesitation, and together they carve a path against the waves.
TO BE CONTINUED.
On this day, I’m reminded that one of the most important responsibilities I have in life is to be a better dad to my kids than my dad was to me.
(So far, so good! But there’s always room for improvement.)
There is Grand Scale Personal Love that comes from intense 1:1 relationships, whether it’s between close friends, family members, or romantic partners.
But there is also the Small Scale Universal Love that comes from washing the dishes, mowing the lawn, stopping for two minutes to say hello to the neighbor, wiping the nasty eye gunk out of your old-ass dog’s eye, or taking ten seconds to write a thank you note to someone who helped you in some tiny way,
Both kinds of love matter, but the latter is always accessible and always simple (if not always easy) to act upon. It doesn’t require moving mountains or boiling the seas. It just requires a bit of caring attention, right now, in this very moment.
Sometimes it is as simple as showing up, especially when you don’t feel like it.
A slight sunburn
Little cuts and scrapes and bruises
Having to take the long way back
because a few steps off the beaten track
put you between a rock
and a hard place.
There are worse ways to get lost in life.
Worse ways to be running late.
Sometimes you won’t be able to see beyond the next curve of the road you’re on.
But trusting that there will be a path that will take you where you want to go, or that you’ll be strong enough to build your own if needed… is what it means to have faith.